Trope-a-Day: Our Weapons Will Be Boxy In The Future

Our Weapons Will Be Boxy In The Future: Averted in most cases; most guns, while still being fundamentally gun-shaped (ergonomists cringe at the thought of trying to actually hit something with the remote-control-styled ST:TNG phaser, for example) as appropriate to the manipulators of the species they’re designed for, still follow The Aesthetics of Technology in being sleek, curvy organic shapes.  After all, they’re nanofactured – grown, not assembled – and all the field-replaceable parts are modular, so…

Played absolutely straight in just one case by the S-11i Mamabear heavy sluggun, because the Mamabear is a brutally overpowered weapon designed – well, the designers appear to have been thinking about building a weapon to fight kaiju at close range. It looks like a large vaned metal brick with a stubby barrel sticking out of one end because that’s precisely what it is; the mass driver is sufficiently overpowered that the whole mechanism of the thing is built into a giant heat sink to keep it at something close to a reasonable operating temperature. Although if you fire the thing multiple times in close succession, reasonable operating temperature means “only radiating in the red”.

(It has some other disadvantages too, like small magazine size, slow reloading rate, inaccuracy at long range, and a recoil that inflicts compound fractures on anyone who fires the thing whose bones aren’t reinforced with hard-wearing synthetic composites, but sometimes that’s worth it for the ability to one-hit kill damn near anything you’ll ever find yourself staring down the barrel at.)

Interlude: Things That Go Bang

Since in the ongoing series about the Legions I’m obviously going to be talking about their guns, seems to me that I ought to maybe describe the terminology used for those just a bit so that you know what I’m talking about.

That is, inasmuch as terminology has changed from what could reasonably be translated into our firearms terminology, inasmuch in turn as these guns technically aren’t firearms – they’re powered by mass drivers rather than chemical explosions – so while some of the words are familiar, the definitions have changed.

Let me sum up:

There are four basic classes of guns (in the slugthrower sense, that is, and ignoring needlers which no-one counts as slugthrowers even though they technically are) used in the Empire. These are referred to as pistols, carbines, snipers, and slugguns.

The first three of these all work by firing tiny flechettes at HOLY CRAP speed.

A pistol is, basically, any flechette-firing mass-driver handgun.

A carbine is the common flechette-firing mass-driver long gun. The original definition as “shorter-barrelled than a rifle” has more or less gone away, since there are no more rifles – the mass drivers spin their projectiles purely through EM fields – but it translates to the vast number of general-use longarms intended for use in pretty much all combat situations from close-up defense to long-range suppressive, essentially filling both the PDW and assault rifle role.

A modal example has a bullpup configuration and probably has a form factor not dissimilar to the FN P90, the weapon I would expect to play them on television if any of this were ever to be made into television. The barrels, in general, are not significantly longer than the main body.

A sniper is the only really long longarm, long-barreled and equipped with specialist software and sensors for even more accuracy than you’ll get out of an already accurate carbine. They’re the descendants of sniper rifles, only shortened in name because, well, they’re not rifles.

The sluggun isn’t a flechette weapon; it fires macroscopic metal slugs in an anti-material role, or canisters which you can put just about anything in, up to and including using it as a launcher for bore-compatible grenades and gyroc micromissiles.

A battle carbine isn’t a special class of its own; it’s what you get when you mount a regular carbine and an underslung sluggun in the same case for maximal versatility, usually sharing their redundant components.

Of our other common firearm types, this can be said:

There aren’t shotguns, because a simple software change to a carbine can emulate them by firing a burst and oscillating the final stage of the mass driver to produce a spreading cone of flechettes, with all the stopping power and spread of the real thing. You can do the same thing with a pistol to emulate a sawed-off shotgun. Alternatively, you can fire canister shot out of a sluggun to much the same effect.

There aren’t submachine guns, because you just configure your carbine to fully automatic rapid fire, and you have exactly the same effect. Likewise, the machine pistol and the pistol.

Any questions?

Trope-a-Day: Hand Cannon

Hand Cannon: You can, indeed, fit some bloody powerful mass drivers into handgun-sized weapons, these days – although even with recoil compensation, etc., it helps to have some of those military-grade musculoskeletal reinforcements – and some way to brace yourself – if you plan on firing the things comfortably or with any reasonable degree of accuracy.

There are even a couple of handgun-sized slugguns on the market, if you feel like a one-handed gyroc-grenade launcher is just what the doctor ordered.  (And Eye-in-the-Flame Arms, outré as ever, sells a sluggun derringer – which, yes, you could theoretically load with an slugfire antimatter grenade – although even by the Empire’s loose standards, the crossover market between “small, concealable suitable-for-waistcoat-pockets-and-ladies’-purses gun” and “can snipe buildings” is… not exactly huge.)

[As a side note, while it is entirely in keeping with the Eye-in-the-Flame design process – which is to say, getting as high as possible on creativity-enhancing nootropic drugs and ignoring entirely the coquetries of practicality – I was a mite concerned about the reader-credibility of this particular example of their products.

Then I learned about this real-world product, a derringer chambered for .81/20 mm, which is to say the type of shells used in Vulcan autocannon. And that they’re planning a 30 mm version.

I rest my case.]

Trope-a-Day: Firing One Handed

Firing One Handed: Works much better with the small examples of personal arms, pistols and such, whose vector-control recoil compensation is very good indeed at making it manageable, and come with an aiming system that plugs directly into your personal-area network, which is to say, brain.

Nevertheless, averted for heavy carbines and slugguns, at least some of which have enough recoil left over even with the compensation to break your wrist and/or arm, even fired two-handed, if you don’t happen to be equipped with those fancy carbon-ceramic weave bone reinforcements they hand out in basic training these days.